‘Hiroshima-level casualties’ feared in final battle for North Darfur

Click to play video: 'UN concerned about expected attack on Darfur city of El Fasher'
UN concerned about expected attack on Darfur city of El Fasher
WATCH: The United Nations Security Council is expressing deep concern for the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region. An opposition military group is closing in on the region's main city and thousands are at risk if the conflict with the Sudanese army escalates. Global’s Redmond Shannon reports – Apr 28, 2024

“It never gets easier to watch people die from space,” says a weary Nathaniel Raymond.

The veteran human rights investigator is monitoring the enciriclement of the Sudanese city of El Fasher in almost-real-time, via high-resolution satellite images.

The capital of the state of North Darfur could be about to fall to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its allies, as they fight against the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in the country’s year-long civil war.

On Friday, Raymond told Global News he believes some RSF troops have made it inside the city limits.

El Fasher is the last city still under SAF control in the vast eastern region of Darfur. It hosts hundreds of thousands of people who have fled violence elsewhere.

“The information is clear. We know what’s going to happen. (The RSF) has motive. They have intent. They’ve literally killed before, over and over again. And they’ve stated what they want to do here,” says Raymond, who is executive director at the Humanitarian Research Lab at Yale School of Public Health.

Story continues below advertisement

“The worst case is Hiroshima- and Nagasaki-level casualties.”

FILE – Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, then deputy head of the military council, salutes during a rally, in Galawee, northern Sudan, June 15, 2019. Sudan has been torn by war for a year now, torn by fighting between the military and the notorious paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. (AP Photo, File). HM

The RSF has been accused of mass-killings and mass-rapes throughout the war. Most notably in the West Darfur capital of El Geneina, where 10,000-15,000 people were killed in ethnically targeted killings last year, according to a panel of United Nations experts.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.
For news impacting Canada and around the world, sign up for breaking news alerts delivered directly to you when they happen.

Get breaking National news

For news impacting Canada and around the world, sign up for breaking news alerts delivered directly to you when they happen.
By providing your email address, you have read and agree to Global News' Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

“The amount of people from groups that they have targeted for killing is five times larger than El Geneina here, if not bigger. And so they’ll have a question about the modality of killing. Will they waste the bullets? How will they do it?” says Raymond.

“The job for me and my team is to position ourselves to move from warning, as the warning phase ends, to documentation — to capture evidence for future accountability.”

The conflict which began in April 2023 has triggered the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with around eight million people displaced.

Story continues below advertisement

A resident of a camp in El Fasher named Tagaldeen told a news briefing on Thursday that the city faces a drinking water shortage in the next few days, due to a lack of fuel for generators.

“There are many families here who rely on only one meal a day. The RSF surrounding El Fasher threatens the citizens with death – by hunger and thirst,” said Tagaldeen.

“We ask the international community to intervene urgently to save the citizens in Darfur, and in El Fasher especially.”

This week the U.N. and the United States highlighted concerns about the situation in El Fasher.

U.N. officials warned the U.N. Security Council last week that around 800,000 people in El Fasher were in “extreme and immediate danger.”

Two decades ago, Hollywood actor George Clooney was among those to bring international attention to ethnically-driven mass killings in Darfur

The U.N. and African Union established a peacekeeping presence in the region in 2007 until its mandate ended in 2020.

Raymond says ending that mission has contributed to what is now playing out in Darfur.

“Darfur is about to succumb to the RSF. And there’s no chant, there’s no wristband, there’s no celebrity on the Today Show. There’s just the human reality of what’s about to occur, and it is occurring in darkness and in silence,” said Raymond.


Sponsored content